Approximately 2.7 billion people—nearly half the world's population—exist on less than $2 a day, with about 1 billion of them living on less than $1 a day. And while the nations of the world collectively produce enough food to feed every person on Earth, the latest estimates reveal that more than 850 million people-roughly one in eight-do not get enough food to lead healthy, active lives.
Meanwhile, diseases of the developing world continue to exact a terrible toll: malaria, for example, is estimated to kill one African child every 30 seconds.
BCG's involvement in social impact work is motivated by eye-opening facts such as these. Because we possess expertise that is capable of making a difference, we are compelled to work with humanitarian organizations to impact local communities and the world at large.
Our primary objective is to make a tangible, lasting contribution to the world in which we live. We are firmly convinced that together we can achieve more than any of us could individually. We also find that the work challenges us intellectually, helps us develop professionally, and fulfills us personally.
What We Do
BCG partners with multiple organizations around the world that seek to make a difference. We support these organizations by applying our talents, expertise, and insights in the consulting services we provide to them. Our social-impact work is conducted on two fronts: through our global and our local partnerships. We structure our efforts along eight topic areas:
In the past year, BCG completed approximately 200 social-impact projects with about 120 organizations worldwide.
On the global level,we work with selected partners in long-term relationships.
Our global efforts focus on the challenges of the developing world and seek to support progress toward the UN Millennium Development Goals. Because these are long-term challenges, we believe they require long-term relationships with critical players.
We have chosen to partner with the World Food Programme, Save the Children, and several organizations working to improve global health and development.
Our local social-impact work aims to have a direct, measurable impact on the communities in which our offices are located and in which we live.
Depending on local needs, each office determines the topics it wants to focus on, as well as the organizations it partners with. Some examples of recent local initiatives include:
Teaching business skills to high school students with the business@school program in Europe and Asia.
Working with public schools in Cleveland, Ohio and Hillsborough, Florida as well as other cities in the U.S.
InAustralia, supporting education reform in partnership with Aboriginal organizations and Jawun, an organization that brings corporations together with local indigenous populations to foster sustainable social and economic development.
Volunteering and Sustainability
In addition to our project work, our contributions include volunteering in our local communities, charitable giving, and providing talent, contacts, and resources. BCG is also concerned with its own environmental footprint. We have established our worldwide BCG Green initiative to reduce resource consumption, waste, and carbon dioxide emissions.
Our ultimate aim is to improve the living conditions of those in need. We often do so by helping our partner organizations become more effective or by directly advancing a topic. We evaluate our impact by looking at what we achieved within the organization, as well as the ultimate effect on beneficiaries.
For example, in recent work with one of our global partners, we supported preparations for the successful launch of a novel meningitis vaccine developed specifically for sub-Saharan Africa. Working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP), BCG conducted a critical-path analysis to assess key risks that might jeopardize the anticipated vaccine launch.
Together with its partners, MVP addressed these risk factors, and in December 2010, 14 million doses of the vaccine were introduced successfully in Burkina Faso, enabling 80 percent of the population to be vaccinated in just four months.
The introduction of this vaccine across sub-Saharan Africa has the potential to avert 140,000 deaths, 300,000 disabilities, and $120 million in treatment costs over the next ten years.
Ways to Get Involved
Participating in one of our social-impact programs is a unique opportunity to make a difference and gain personal experience. BCG offers several ways employees can engage in social impact work:
Project work: Become staffed on a global or local project, just as you would be staffed on our corporate client work.
Social Impact Immersion Programme: Spend 9 to 12 months of your career focused on global and local social-impact work, developing expertise in the sector.
Social impact secondments: Participate in a social impact secondment, and spend 6 to 12 months working with one of our global partners as part of its team.
Social impact leave of absence: Spend up to 12 months on social impact work of your choice. BCG can help you find the right organization and position.
Volunteering: Participate in volunteer projects through your BCG office—for example, consulting to local social entrepreneurs, mentoring high-school classes, or spending a day with your colleagues helping in a homeless shelter.
For more information on social-impact projects we have undertaken globally and locally, please read our latest Making a Difference report
or visit our Social Impact practice area
It's not often that you can measure the success of a project in terms of lives saved.
Tom Lewis, Senior Advisor in BCG's Social Impact Network, talks about BCG's commitment to social impact and our global and local approach.